July 26, 1999 -- Abdominal adhesions are the result of internal scar tissue that can develop after abdominal or pelvic surgery and are a frequent cause of chronic abdominal pain in people who have had such operations.
Although adhesions are quite common and are the leading cause of obstruction in the small bowel, we still don't know how to prevent or treat them.
You might try abdominal manipulation, done by an osteopathic physician or a chiropractor, who has experience in this area.
Guided imagery may also be helpful.
If you're having problems with constipation because of adhesions, you should probably take the bowel regulator, Triphala, an Ayurvedic remedy that is available in capsules at health food stores. This combination of three fruits is a much better bowel regulator than laxatives. Follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
No one can predict which patients will develop adhesions, or which types of surgery are most likely to cause them; but a recent study from Scotland found that nearly six percent of hospital readmissions could be blamed on them.
They also found that nearly 35 percent of all the patients, who had abdominal or pelvic surgery, were readmitted - on an average of twice in a 10-year period - because of adhesions.
Another study found the link between adhesions and bowel obstruction a bigger problem than previously believed: Of the 18,912 Medicare patients who had some type of abdominal surgery at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, about 46 percent developed obstructions requiring treatment - which usually led to more surgery.
Scientific studies have shown that you're less likely to develop adhesions following laparoscopic surgery, which requires only a very small incision and uses a tiny "scope" for doctors to see what they're doing. However, even this type of operation doesn't eliminate the risk.
To make matters worse, problems related to internal scarring can develop years after an otherwise successful surgery.
If you do get more adhesions, you will need more surgery - and unfortunately, any kind of abdominal surgery increases your risk of developing more troublesome scarring. So you can find yourself caught in a vicious circle of requiring surgery to eliminate adhesions; but risking more adhesions with each additional procedure.
Dr. Andrew Weil